Despite Ethiopia’s climatic conditions favoring horticultural crops including fruits and vegetables of temperate, tropical and sub-tropical origin, yet annually we could grow 2 million tones of fruits and vegetables from 12,000 hectares of land, which is insignificant, rued Academic Affairs Vice President, Dr Agena Anjulo.

Dr Agena opening the national symposium on ‘Fruits and Vegetables Production and Marketing,’ at Lecture Theatre, Main Campus on 31st May, 2014, further added, ‘‘To stimulate the horticultural crops’ production in the nation, government has already started wooing investors by doling out incentives in this sub-sector.

In the backdrop of inappropriate post-harvests handling, absence of processing knowhow, lack of appropriate national seed corporation for horticultural crops and poor market potential, we expect the research out-puts to be communicated to the wider community through publications, he quipped.

The symposium second in a row by College of Agriculture, saw 13 presentations on horticultural crops i.e. tomato, onion, cassava, apple, banana, mango, potato and enset generated much of the needed scientific information; half of the presentations were from AMU.

Sharing the Ethiopian poor scenario on horticulture sub-sector, Dean of College of Agriculture, Dr Nejib Mohammad, said, ‘‘Significant achievements have been recorded with regard to cereal-based agriculture compared to horticulture sub-sector that hadn’t received adequate attention. But now it tops the government agenda particularly for export production.’’

He hoped this forum to offer an opportunity to have a closer look at the crucial problems and come up with alternative horticulture technologies and technical back-up mechanism.

Dr Agena in his ‘Growth and yield performance of components under Apple-based Agri-horticulture system in Himachal Himalayas,’ carried out in Baragan village of Kullu district in India showed the varying effects of intercropping in the span of two years.

In his research, distance from the tree base and the canopy effect were seen to be the causative factor, which played major role on the growth and yield of crops like tomato, peas, pulses and wheat inter-cropped with apple. Replying to the queries like, why it was important and beneficial in Ethiopian context; his next course of action, he said, ‘‘We need to look for suitable varieties for our farmers in the Highlands. He informed about ongoing efforts to establish a research centre at Chencha to do the same result with experiment on different crops.

Hawassa University has two presentations on yield of Irish potato in acidic soil of Chencha and nutritional quality of seven cultivars of Cassava roots in Ethiopia.

Dr Samuel Sahle of Gonder University came up with two studies i.e. bacterial quality assessment on fresh vegetables sold in Gonder market and assessment and management options of mango anthracnose.

South Agriculture Research Institute, Bako Agriculture Mechanization Research Centre and Jinka Agricultural Research Centre have presented studies on Banana disease status, Evaluation of manually-operated Mango picker and Adaptation of different Apple varieties in South Omo highlands respectively.

Scholars expressing great concern over mango, apple in particular and other crops in general discussed the inimical practices restricting the shelf life of mango, lack of processing technologies and non-existence of extension service, unorganized market potential and unprofessional approach proving to be internecine for the farmers and nation as well.

Diverse views were expressed on the socio-economic aspect of the horticulture crops. Some say cooperatives monopolize the agricultural produce thus depriving the farmers’ from their due benefit; some took exception to it.

Research Director, Dr Fantahun in his closing remarks, said, ‘‘We have huge potential but it’s under-utilized as our production methods are poor for which market potential is non-existent; hence fruits and vegetables aren’t used to the extent for the socio-economic development of the nation as yet. He stressed to use the findings of the symposium for the welfare of the farmers. The participants were given the compendium of the symposium conducted in 2013.

By Philips Joseph